• Review: "Drew Weing's slender, hand-sized debut graphic novel Set to Sea is a crosshatched masterpiece. [...] Weing draws in an elaborate, crosshatched style that's half Popeye, half Maakies, and it meshes brilliantly with the subject matter and the storytelling. Set to Sea is so lovely in places that I found myself exclaiming aloud -- it's got a naive-but-self-conscious grace that is impossible to describe and that few have ever mastered. This one is highly recommended." – Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
• Review: "In the first and the second volume [of Mome] there are a lot of things to enjoy. Stories differ both in length (there are one-page strips, too) and in narrative technique. [...] In these two books there [is] a lot [that is] interesting and confusing, enjoyable and intriguing. Do not be a mome, read these first-rate collections of comics." – Ray Garraty, Endless Falls Up
• Review:Attentiondeficitdisorderly's Sean T. Collins looks at Gilbert Hernandez's half of Love and Rockets Vol. II #20 (as reprinted in the Luba hardcover) in his ongoing "Love and Rocktober" series: "At long last he returns to Venus, Petra’s daughter and one of the least damaged, most well-adjusted, most self-assured characters in the whole post-Palomar oeuvre. [...] It’s an uplifting note to end on after all this darkness."
• Plug:NPR's Glen Weldon recommends "Five Tomes to See You Through Your Turkey Coma": "In honor of the 25th anniversary of this classic all-ages 'funny animals' tale of Miyaomoto Usagi, a stoic samurai rabbit who roams 17th-century Japan, Fantagraphics has collected the first seven trades in a sumptuous 2-book, 1200-page hardcover edition [Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition]. Which, uh ... won't be out until December. Until then, you can pick up a couple volumes and get a taste of Sakai's masterful, action-packed, richly detailed storytelling, and see why it's become such a beloved series."
• Plug: "Mascots, [Ray] Fenwick's forthcoming follow-up [to Hall of Best Knowledge], is similarly a series of episodes told through inventive typography and absurd yet hilarious text. But integrating these elements with brightly colored paintings, the book depicts a more surreal, frenzied world that is strangely resonant with today's super speedy internet age." – Space 15 Twenty
• List: Deb Aoki of About.com: Manga names A Drunken Dream and Other Stories by Moto Hagio the Best New Manga of 2010: "Conjoined twins who share a painful co-existence. A young girl rejected by her mother who can only see her as an iguana. Ill-fated lovers who are doomed to be separated in several lifetimes. These characters came to life in this collection of smart, sensitive and thought-provoking short stories created by master storyteller Moto Hagio."
• Review: "It makes my job as a critic a lot harder when I’ve spent nearly an entire book composing its review in my head only for the final few pages to smash it to smithereens. In that sense, reviewing Luba: The Book of Ofelia is hard work." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Interview (Audio):Destroy All Movies!!! editors Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly appeared on KBOO-FM Community Radio out of Olympia WA on Monday for an interview with host Erin Yanke — listen here
• Plug:Public School's Will Bryant spotlights Ray Fenwick's Mascots
• Commentary: At The Wright Opinion, Brendan Wright shares his thoughts about the longevity of Las Locas: "I’m as excited as anyone that the graphic novel is gradually becoming the standard model of the modern comic book, but among its many virtues, the fact that Love and Rockets has always been presented as a series is important. This is the comic book that elevated the serial format of comics from soap opera to serialized literature. It’s hard to wait between the annual installments, but it’s worth it to check in with old friends, and whatever else he does with the rest of his creativity, I’m happy that Hernandez always finds time to keep up with the 'Locas' world."
Mark your social calendars in indelible ink! Saturday, December 11 marks the 4th anniversary of the fabulous Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery. To celebrate this auspicious occasion we're once again hosting the season's most festive party featuring amazing music, comix, art, and more!
The evening includes solo music sets by Zak Sally and Mark Pickerel. Zak was a founding member of alternative music legends Low and continues solo music endeavors while publishing great comics with Fantagraphics as well as producing exquisitely crafted small press projects on his own La Mano imprint. He will be joined by Fantagraphics friend Mark Pickerel who began his musical career with the highly acclaimed Screaming Trees and now fronts Mark Pickerel and His Praying Hands, in addition to being the proprietor of Seattle pop culture emporium Damaged Goods.
All this plus screaming deals on comix, celebrity guests, holiday libations, demented Christmas platters spun by DJ Russ Fallout, and a few surprises makes Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery's 4th anniversary party the place to be on Saturday, December 11. See you all then.
• Review: "I enjoyed Tardi’s art, which made me feel as though I was visiting 1911 Paris. [...] The stories are dense and packed with outrageous events, providing a sense of adventure. The recaps, as characters explain what’s going on to each other, were both a help... and a satire, reinforcing just how much Tardi is playing with the conventions of the genre and layering event upon event, a kitchen-sink approach to plotting that keeps the reader interested in a world that seems so sedate but where anything can happen. [... The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec Vol. 1] is fun, but with the knowing remove of self-awareness and satire." – Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
• Review: "Some of the conversations are amusing and the awkward silences of real life relationships are nicely portrayed by silent panels and the characters body language. The eight panel grids are the same on every page but that's not a bad thing. [Werewolves of Montpellier] is not the kind of tale that calls for spectacular graphics." – Eamonn Murphy, SF Crowsnest
• Review: "Set to Sea by Drew Weing... is about 150 pages long, but only has one illustration per page. It is always a good illustration, and this story of a would-be writer who’s shanghaied into being a pirate is great fun. Weing’s art is cartoony, but that helps lessen the violence of ship to ship battles with boarding parties hacking at each other with cutlasses. Weing is a young cartoonist to watch." – Mike Rhode, Washington City Paper
• Review: "...[T]he most recent installment in the annual [Love and Rockets] series features a couple of moments that are as technically brilliant and as profoundly moving as anything the series has seen in the past. It’s not easy to get to that level of emotion without collapsing under the weight of your own portentousness, but the Hernandez brothers have managed it." – Bob Temuka, The Tearoom of Despair [Spoiler warning!]
• Review: "As soon as I finished reading the new Love and Rockets, I could only think about how much I want to read further. Definitely it will be some time before the next issue and possibly when it is released I'll admit that it is worth waiting every day, but fortunately for the moment I can always go back to previous work by the brothers Hernandez, and read their latest project again and again." – Aristedes Kotsis, Comicdom (translated from Greek)
• Review: "I know I just got finished explaining that biology is destiny in the Palomar stories. But what struck me upon rereading the material collected in this volume, dominated by the titular story of a serial killer’s stay in the town, is the power of ideas. Not emotional or sexual drives, even, like the web of lust and unrequited love surround Luba’s mother Maria in the suite of stories that forms the second half of the collection, but actual honest-to-god ideas. [...] If Heartbreak Soup showed us Gilbert the literary comics stylist, Human Diastrophism shows us Gilbert the mindfucker — the Gilbert who’s still with us today." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly (a continuation of the "Love and Rocktober" series)
• Interview (audio): Guest co-host Dan Zettwoch gets in on the Carol Tyler interview action in the new episode of The Comix Claptrap podcast — two of my faves together!
• Commentary: "'Frank in the Ruse Garden,' like all the Frank stories, like most of Jim Woodring’s work, is one hundred percent unadulterated Uncanny. Like Jim Woodring saw fever dreams we’d forgotten ages ago, and put them down on paper to remind us. [...] The Unifactor is an animistic world of spirits and strange forces. Time and again, Frank comes in contact with numinous wonders, and fail to rise to the occasion. Frank comes upon a field of floating souls, and grabs one to use as a flying horse. Frank dives into a well ringed with eyes, and emerges mutated and warped. Frank wanders into the House of the Dead wearing a party hat, and it’s, like, awkward." – Wesley Osam, Super Doomed Planet
• Plug: "How could it be Halloween without some horror comics? I’ve been enjoying Four Color Fear, ed. Greg Sadowski, an anthology of ‘50s horror comics from publishers other than EC. I’m only a couple of stories in and, while none have actually scared me, the oversized, full-color book looks to be a wonderful primer on horror-comics history." – guest columnist Sam Costello, Robot 6
Another two-day Online Commentary & Diversions (running a little off schedule, sorry):
• Review: "Hollywood is probably the most likely to misrepresent any culture, but their casting of punks as Neolithic, abusive, drug addicts with candy-colored hair and an inexplicable amount of chains is far too amusing to turn away from. [Destroy All Movies!!!] editors Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly seem to have noticed this trend, and their commentary about each of these films borders on hilarious at several points. [...] In the end, you get both a compendium of thoughtful ruminations on punk culture and a hilarious collection of movie missteps..." – Thorin Klosowski, Denver Westword
• Review: "[Jason] is without immediate peer, and perhaps the closest I can get to him is Jim Jarmusch, the indie film director... Werewolves of Montpellier is less about the grand sweep of its pseudo-horror set-up (which is utterly demolished by a delicious final page denouement), and more about its mundane aspects, which resonate further than the book's forty-odd pages. ★★★★ [out of 5]" – Michael Leader, Den of Geek
• Review: "...Blake Bell has crafted an excellent look at one of comics' most underappreciated creators: compelling, well paced and entertaining. [...] Bell kept Fire & Water moving at an excellent pace, never dwelling too long on any details but giving us Everett's life in relation to his comic career. And that's the key: Bell is a comic fan and knows his audience is as well so that's the focus. [...] While the tale of Everett's life held my attention the art is the real star. Covering everything from early doodles to his last published page we get to see thirty plus years of material. [...] The fit and finish for Fire & Water is exceptional. A heavy matt paper is used that really shows off the material and gives it an almost period feel. The size is perfect for admiring the art and is easy to read; a new perfect package. I can't get enough of the dust jacket image and its design is stunning: a real eye catcher. At $40 it's a great value." – Scott VanderPloeg, Comic Book Daily
• Review: Sean T. Collins's "Love and Rocktober" review series at Attentiondeficitdisorderly moves on to Gilbert Hernandez's oeuvre, starting with Heartbreak Soup: "Whether in terms of family, sexuality, physicality, or deformity, biology is destiny for the people of Palomar... And although biology is obviously among Beto's primary concerns, destiny is the operative word. I don't think the Palomarians have the ability to escape the way the Locas do. Not all of them need to escape, mind you — there's a lot of really warm and adorable and hilarious and awesome stuff going down in Palomar — but whatever walks alongside them in their lives is gonna walk alongside them till the very end."
• List: At Robot 6, guest contributor Van Jensen names Josh Simmons's House as one of his "six favorite horror comics & movies" (and, by reduction, one of his three favorite horror comics): "Simmons uses no words through the entire story, but his real accomplishment is utilizing the design of the pages to deliver an increasingly claustrophobic, disorienting and terrifying story."
• Plug: At Robot 6, Sean T. Collins highlights our duo of creepy all-ages releases, David B.'s The Littlest Pirate King and Stéphane Blanquet's Toys in the Basement
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater concludes his 3-part chat with Drew Weing: "What’s funny is, I’ve got Google Alerts for my name, so if somebody says it on the Internet, I show up like Beetlejuice. I click on it, like, 'ooh, this guy just dissed me.'" [Hi, Drew.]
Online Commentary & Diversions returns from a sick day:
• Review: "With elegant simplicity, this comic-book fable [Set to Sea] unfurls the tale of a life cast on an unexpected course and the melancholy wisdom accrued upon the waves. First-time graphic-novelist Weing has produced a beautiful gem here, with minimal dialogue, one jolting battle scene, and each small page owned by a single panel filled with art whose figures have a comfortable roundness dredged up from the cartoon landscapes of our childhood unconscious, even as the intensely crosshatched shadings suggest the darkness that sometimes traces the edges of our lives. [...] Weing’s debut is playful, atmospheric, dark, wistful, and wise." – Jesse Karp, Booklist (Starred Review)
• Review: "...[A]n absolutely stunning [book], collecting some of the best and most trenchantly funny illustrations by a contender for the title of America’s Greatest Living Caricaturist in a lavish, full-colour hardback. [...] Friedman is a master craftsman who can draw and paint with breathtaking power, and his work is intrinsically funny. [...] His caricatures are powerful, resonant and joyful, but without ever really descending to the level of graphic malice preferred by such luminaries as Ralph Steadman or Gerald Scarfe. Too Soon? is a book for art lovers, celebrity stalkers and anyone who enjoys a pretty, good laugh." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "...A Drunken Dream showcases the full range of Hagio’s short stories, while also granting readers insight into the themes of lost innocence, family dysfunction and perseverance in the face of abuse that underscore much of her work. [...] With distinct character designs, detailed backgrounds and emotive character acting, Hagio’s artwork conveys the full emotional range of her stories, with dollops of humor mixed into sagas of sadness, survival and hard-won contentment. [...] A Drunken Dream and Other Stories finds another important voice in Japanese comics history washing up on American shores. One hopes that Hagio, whose work manages to be both stark and beautiful, finds a welcoming and receptive audience." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: Sean T. Collins looks at "La Maggie La Loca" and "Gold Diggers of 1969" from Love and Rockets Vol. II #20 as part of his "Love and Rocktober" series at Attentiondeficitdisorderly: "Maggie may just be an apartment manager anymore, she may now get in way over her head (literally) when she attempts to have a fun island adventure like she used to, but the way Rena sneaks into her room at night just to watch her sleep reveals that the aging heroine could use a dose of the community and camaraderie that's part and parcel of Maggie's dayjob."
• List: Sam Costello of iFanboy names House by Josh Simmons as one of "13 Great Horror Comics for Halloween": "Josh Simmons is some kind of horror savant. There are few really, truly, deeply disturbing comics out there. If you’re willing to take the risk of reading a comic that you’ll literally want to cover your eyes while you read, Simmons’ work is for you. House, his nearly wordless tale of a trio of friends exploring a dilapidated, cavernous mansion, is less explicit, but worth a look. Its suffocating, despairing loneliness is affecting." (Via Robot 6)
• Commentary: "It was like the sky: pleasant, visually appealing, reliable. Peanuts had a Picture of Dorian Gray quality; you kept getting older and more decrepit and more cynical, but it didn't. By the time you started reading it, you were already older than the characters in the strip, so it immediately made you nostalgic for childhood. Not necessarily for your childhood, but for the childhood Lucy and Charlie and Linus were having." – Joe Queenan, The Guardian
• Interview: At Comic Book Resources, Chris Mautner talks to Johnny Ryan about Prison Pit: "I think in a strange way the book(s) are very revealing about myself. I felt as if I was really exposing myself here. I was very anxious about that."
Online Commentary & Diversions returns after a post-APE hiatus and subsequent sick day:
• Review: "Good Jaime Hernandez comics are always just about the most satisfying books that money can buy, and I was so impressed with how the pleasure of seeing contemporary Maggie again for the first time in far too long [in Love and Rockets: New Stories #3] gave way to the satisfaction of seeing another building block in her curious history, and then everything turned unpleasant in a way that was equally bleak and fascinating. Watching Jaime fit everything together the way he does is breathtaking. Recommended for adult readers." – Grant Goggans, The Hipster Dad's Bookshelf
• Review: It's still "Love and Rocktober" at Sean T. Collins's Attentiondeficitdisorderly: "If Ghost of Hoppers was Maggie's confrontation with adulthood, The Education of Hopey Glass serves up the equivalent for Hopey and Ray. It's fascinating to me to see where their lives have taken them versus where they were — and more importantly, what they represented to Maggie — when they were first juxtaposed. [...] What makes these two stories compelling and connects them to one another beyond the basic idea of the characters coming to terms with their age is how much the stories rely on the kinds of things only an artist of Jaime's caliber can pull off for their telling."
• Review: "Man’s oldest gynophobic horrors and most simplistic delight in sheer physical dominance are savagely delineated in this primitive, appalling, cathartic and blackly funny campaign of cartoon horror. Resplendent, triumphant juvenilia is adroitly shoved beyond all ethical limits into the darkest depths of absurdist comedy. Not for children, the faint-hearted or weak-stomached, [Prison Pit Book 2] is another non-stop rollercoaster of extreme violence, profanity and cartoon shock and awe at its most visceral and compelling. ...[T]his book is all-out over the top and flat out hilarious. Buy and see if you’re broad-minded, fundamentally honest and purely in need of ultra-adult silliness." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "Bitter, haunting stories [by Zak Sally] like 'The Man Who Killed Wally Wood' and 'The War Back Home' show a striking willingness to ask uncomfortable questions about himself and the world around him. His account of Dostoyevsky’s time in prison is a real highlight and I think marks a turning point in his storytelling ability. And the fearless, self-lacerating essay he provides at the end brings the book to a near-perfect close. Really, [Like a Dog] is a tight little collection." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "There’s fourteen stories in all in this anthology, beautifully scanned, restored, and reproduced in all their four-color glory. [...] There’s a lot of fun to be had in these pages. [...] Boody properly showcases a sizeable enough collection of complete comics stories by the wildman inkslinger from Texas, finally elevating Rogers into the pantheon he’s always been part of — if only enough folks had been able to access his work. At last, they can!" – Steve Bissette, The Schulz Library Blog
• Review: "The publication of Rebel Visions was a vital riposte to [a] tide of apathy, a vast and authoritative work built for the clear purpose of documenting the entire history of the US underground revolution in a definitive fashion: a not inconsiderable task given the various tributaries that have spewed forth since the early 1960s. [...] Rosenkranz diligently weaves a number of divergent themes using the oral histories of most of the major participants." – Kevin McCaighy, Exquisite Things (via ¡Journalista!)
• Interview: Kat Engh of Geek Girl on the Street chatted with Megan Kelso at APE over the weekend: "I like writing and movies and music and art forms that are about more than one thing. I’m really fascinated by that, and I think that comics really lend themselves to that kind of layering and layers in conflict, because you’ve literally got two tracks of information with pictures and words, and because they’re so separate from each other, they lend themselves to doing different things at the same time. I’ve always thought that if a comic’s not doing more than one thing, it’s not taking advantage of what is, so yeah, I’d say I actively strive for that."
• Interview: At Comic Book Resources, Chris Mautner talks to Fire & Water author Blake Bell at length about Bill Everett — "I think Everett is as unique a stylist as Ditko is. When you see Everett's work, you automatically know who it is if you have any inkling about any of the Silver or Golden Age artists. Secondly, in his own way he's as influential as Ditko. Without question, Everett created the antihero in superhero comics back in 1939 when he introduced the Sub-Mariner. There was no other comic book character like him." — and upcoming volumes of The Steve Ditko Archives.
• Interview: It's the second part of Brian Heater's conversation with Drew Weing at The Daily Cross Hatch: "It’s such a weird time where so much stuff is available online, though I went out of my way to make the book a nice little object. And I feel like it does read better in book form, because it’s a format that you can more lovingly pore over the detail."
• Interview: At Gapers Block, Rose Lannin talks to Jeremy Tinder, who makes his Fantagraphics debut in Mome Vol. 20. This quote is relevant to the Mome story: "I grew up reading newspaper strips, like Garfield. I think it was around age 5 when I really started getting into Garfield and tracing it out of the paper every day. [...] Garfield was my focus in life for six years, I was so into it."
• Coming Attractions:Bleeding Cool's Rich Johnston reports here that "...[I]t seems that Fantagraphics, as part of their current attemp to to translate every French comic book in existence, has seized upon [David B.'s] book, Le Jardin armé et autres histoires or The Armed Garden and are to publish it in August next year," and here about our translation of Tardi & Manchette's Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot, "...planned for August next year. Which, in terms of European-to-American translation is light speed."
• Review: "Emotionally uncompromising and graphically challenging, You’ll Never Know v.2: Collateral Damage stands out as one of the best comics of the year. Tyler reaches deep into herself, showing the unending dominoes of influence that compose a family. Do yourself a favor and check it out." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "But as powerful as this strain of valorization has been, there have been powerful statements of dissent along the way. The Americanization of Emily, for example, or Catch-22. Lucky in Love: Book 1 (by George Cheiffet, with art by Stephen DeStefano) follows their path, though it takes a much more personal, less grandiose tone than those two examples. It’s drawn in a style reminiscent of Disney WWII propaganda cartoons, though DeStefano arranges the backgrounds and perspectives with far greater sophistication." – Joshua Malbin
• Review: "Ryan takes puerile humor to unimagined heights (or depths)... Prison Pit Book Two isn't as much about punchlines and shock tactics. Here, the humor comes via ridiculously long and surreal battles between intergalactic monsters (think bizarre mutations and mass bloodshed). It's sort of a spoof on sci-fi comics, He-Man cartoons, and the over the top male bravado of WWE Wrestling...Prison Pit contains Ryan's signature WTF flourishes, like ass licking creatures, thorny alien vaginas, ghetto slang and Nazi insignia emblazoned 'death hösen' trousers. See you on the playground." – Wilfred Brandt, TwoThousand
• Review: "But the way you're just dropped into Maggie & Hopey, Already In Progress, is pretty much why I continue to recommend this volume [Maggie the Mechanic], rather than its relatively sci-fi-free successors, as the place to start if you're interested in Jaime's work. I understand why that doesn't work for everyone — and it's true, the earliest comics are relatively talky and old-fashioned-looking as befits their influences. But if you start late in the game, you're not just missing dinosaurs and rocketships and robots and superheroes and such — you're missing what really feels like a couple years in the life. Even by page one, we've already missed so much!" – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater talked to Drew Weing at SPX. Part 1 gets into the creation of Set to Sea: "The intention was to draw a panel every day and post it. It was supposed to be fun, quick side project, 'it’s the end of the day. I just draw this one, quick, small panel.' And every day it got more and more detailed and complex. By panel two it was too complex to knock off in an hour or two."
• Plug: "Four-Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s... [is a] collection of pre-Code, non-EC horror comics that are every bit as good as the famed EC comics themselves. Here in all its shocking, creepy and gory glory you can see work from Jack Cole, Reed Crandall, Frank Frazetta, Al Williamson, Basil Wolverton, Wally Wood, and more! This one is a must!" – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
• Coming Attractions:Bleeding Cool 's Rich Johnston continues noticing our 2011 Eurocomics reprints, now reporting on our June edition of R. Macherot's Sibyl-Anne Vs. Ratticus: "Am I the only one that’s seeing a bit of a trend? The trade dress appears similar… is Fantagraphics on a major spreee to translate and publish as many quality French comics as they can? [Yes. – Ed.] In a new imprint or line perhaps? [I'm not sure whether we're considering this a "line" or not, but it's not an imprint. – Ed.]"
Periodic clips & strips — click for improved/additional viewing and possible artist commentary at the sources:
• Jason presents two cover illustrations: one for a biography of Henrik Ibsen, the other for a 1989 issue of a Norwegian fanzine (oh yeah, and the cover for his next Fanta collection What I Did is in there too)
"Greetings, stranger of the future. If you are reading this, it means the written word has survived, that the world of tomorrow still exists, and that for some reason my ramblings are still considered worth reading. My name is Mark Twain, and I write these words to you in the good old days of August 2010."
• Richard Sala presents a whole bunch of production, concept, and storyboard art from his animated serial "Invisible Hands" from MTV's Liquid Television, in 4 installments (so far) hereherehere and here, with commentary